A view of a yellow rose bush during an arts event.

Vermont Festival Season: Top Events for Food, Art, and Music Lovers

Beginning in early spring with the Vermont Maple Festival and continuing through the summer months, vibrant arts fests line the calendar alongside a jazz jubilee in Burlington and weekly live music in Montpelier. Book now to stay at our  Waterbury bed and breakfast, which is ideally situated for planning fun-filled day trips to a variety of Vermont Summer Festival.

A sugar house processing the maple sap into syrup
The Culinary Delights of Sugaring Season and a Vermont Summer Festival Featuring All Things Maple

Springtime starts sweetly at the Vermont Maple Festival on April 26-28th, celebrating its 57th year and one of the most classic Vermont festivals you’ll find. Throughout the state, “sugar shacks” kick into high gear from late February through April, an annual harvest that produces the most maple syrup of any state in the US. Some Vermont maple syrup operations are tiny and humble, with a few stands of trees, while others draw sap from hundreds of thousands of trees. During this exciting annual 6-8 week time window every year, temperatures rise just enough during the day and stay cold enough at night to get the delicious maple sap flowing.

Take a scenic drive 50 minutes north to St. Albans City, where the annual maple festival takes over the downtown area throughout the weekend. Their Main St. has New England charm in spades, with Victorian storefronts and small-town quaintness, transforming into a celebration of maple culture, one of a few Vermont festivals featured on the Travel Channel for its unique atmosphere. A Timbersports expo showcases the saw skills of locals (being handy with a saw is essential in maintaining the network of trees that make up every maple farm), and a carnival with games and all the maple treats imaginable (think maple cotton candy, maple donuts, maple ice cream, etc.) takes place all afternoon. Catch some live music on the main stage, where local Americana, soul, and blues acts perform all day, and browse the art show, which has the theme “Totally Eclipsed by Vermont Maple,” as the total eclipse happens just a couple of weeks before the fest. Stock up on the world’s freshest and best-tasting syrup as a souvenir to bring home, and break up the drive back to Waterbury by stopping at the halfway point in Burlington to enjoy the spring sunshine and views along Lake Champlain.

Celebrating Small-Town Arts and a “Foolishly Fun” Vermont Summer Festival Unlike Any Other

Every summer, Vermont festivals spotlight local art, drawing visitors from afar to lovely towns like Jeffersonville, a village of under 1,000 people in Cambridge. The Festival of the Arts celebrates its 15th year on August 10th, 2024, when the Cambridge Arts Council turns Jeffersonville’s downtown (with historic Victorian architecture much like St. Albans City) into a street fair lined with artists displaying their diverse work – you’ll see everything from pastoral oil paintings and boutique mirrors in hand-etched frames to artisanal wooden furniture, nature photography (Vermont’s beautiful landscapes will make you want to grab your camera during your visit), exquisite metal jewelry, and vibrant quilts. The local school band plays mid-day while a roving fiddler adds to the lively scene, and you’ll surely come away with a new favorite piece of art for your home. Jeffersonville is just 35 miles north of Waterbury, and with no less than eight covered bridges within 12 miles of its downtown (including the Grist Mill Bridge, only ½ mile from where the festival takes place), combine your day trip to the arts fest with stops at several of these iconic Vermont covered bridges en route.

Art takes over Waterbury in mid-July at Pilgrim Park, less than a mile and walkable from our location on North Main Street. The Waterbury Arts Fest kicks off with live music and a beer garden on the evening of Friday, July 12th, 2024, when local rockin’ outfit the Grift headlines the festival stage. Starting at 10 am on Saturday, over 100 Vermont artists set up tents to show off their wares, representing every artistic style and medium, with engaging and family-friendly events like the “Creation Station,” where kids and adults alike can try their hand at spinning clay or making crafts. Come for the art and enjoy the music, dance performances, and tasty plates from food trucks.

For a wildly entertaining spin on the idea of an arts gathering, look no further than the 17th edition of the Festival of Fools, which will take over downtown Burlington over the weekend of August 2nd-4th, 2024. Bookended by a festive parade on Friday and a classical ensemble closing out the fest on Sunday, every hour of the weekend features musicians busking from morning until late into the evening, acrobatic street performers, diverse dance acts, and the playful performance mischief of the “School of Foolery.” While you’re enjoying the festivities, browse the shops along Church St, whether it’s getting lost in the aisles at Crow Bookshop, enjoying a scoop from Ben and Jerry’s, discovering some fair-trade home decor at Ten Thousand Villages, or scoring an excellent deal on adventure gear at the beloved Outdoor Gear Exchange.

a very cozy room at the old stagecoach inn

World-Class Jazz in Burlington and a Summer Music Series in Montpelier

As a city that has consistently fostered the arts, Burlington has a solid music pedigree, its stages home to diverse Vermont artists like Phish, Grace Potter, and Noah Kahan as they’ve risen to national fame. During early June, downtown Burlington – just a 30-minute drive from Waterbury – transforms into a jazz mecca, with non-stop performances around town and along the scenic waterfront (it’s hard to imagine a more relaxing ambiance than kicking back under the summer sun and watching live jazz overlooking the pristine waters of Lake Champlain). The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival will occur from June 5th to 9th, 2024, a collaboration between the nearly-century-old legendary Flynn Theater and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Look for mainstage acts to be released soon (2023’s lineup included a long list of jazz heavyweights like Sun Ra Arkestra, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Kamasi Washington), and be sure to catch the late-night improvised jams at downtown venues throughout the festival weekend.

Just a few miles to our east, Montpelier – famously the country’s smallest state capital and worthy of a day trip during your stay – turns into a laidback mini music festival every Thursday evening from mid-June through mid-August. The 200 acres of Hubbard Park feature a beautiful natural landscape in the town center, with miles of hiking trails winding through the hardwood forest and a grassy meadow where the Parkapalooza musicians take the stage in a rustic bandshell. It’s a blast for all ages, including a slip and slide and plenty of space to picnic on the lawn – so take the 20-minute drive from Waterbury and bring the whole family for great local music, delicious eats from food vendors, and Vermonter summer vibes at their best.

Stay with us and experience the full range of Vermont summer festival, celebrating local arts and culture throughout the spring and summer seasons!